Christine Quinn discusses struggle with bulimia, alcoholism

Christine Quinn
Christine Quinn is expected to address her personal struggles with an eating disorder and alcohol during a speech at Barnard College on Tuesday. Credit: William Alatriste

Before she entered politics, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn struggled with bulimia and alcoholism. Quinn opened up about those experiences in an interview with the New York Times, and is expected to talk about them publicly at Barnard College on Tuesday.

Quinn’s mother was dying of breast cancer when she was 16 years old, the speaker told the Times. Quinn spent every morning waking her mother, bathing her, making her breakfast and giving her medication. Her mother’s condition wasn’t improving, and when it was all too overwhelming for the teen to handle, she would binge on ice cream and corn muffins — and then make herself throw up.

The habit continued for 10 years until she sought help at the age of 26.

“I just want people to know you can get through stuff,” she told the Times. “I hope people can see that in what my life has been and where it is going.”

The speaker reached out to the Times to share her experience. She will also touch upon the issues in a memoir that is scheduled to be published next month.

Quinn also talked about how although her mother was diagnosed with cancer when she was in the second grade, she didn’t know about it until the eighth grade when a nun at her school told one of her classmates to be nice to her because her mother had cancer.

At this time, Quinn felt that she needed to be perfect — and thinner — in order to save her mother, the Times reports. Secretly eating sweets and then purging brought a sense of relief, she said.

“For a brief moment, you’ve kind of expelled from your being the things that are making you feel bad,” she said. Quinn also began going out and drinking with friends around this time.

Quinn was in her junior year of high school when her mother died. She continued to struggle with her bulimia and drinking throughout college.

Years later, Quinn got a job working as a campaign manager for City Councilman Thomas Duane. When Quinn opened up to Duane about her problems, he urged her to go to rehabilitation, and she did.

Quinn said she is proud of what she has overcome and does not want to hide it anymore. She added that she does not believe her openness about this part of her life will have an effect on the mayoral race, saying it feels “nonpolitical.”


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